A magistrate who fined 10 people for not paying voting fines in the 2016 federal election on July 2, has stressed the importance of people doing their civic duty by showing up to vote.
During the sentencing in Orange Local Court on Monday, magistrate Susan McGowan said adults in Australia had the responsibility of voting and as long as they turned up, they didn’t have to select candidates if they didn’t like them.
“I think they need to stand up and be counted,” Ms McGowan said.
“Even if you don’t like the people you have to vote for, you still have to turn up.”
Initially 12 people were to be brought before the court but the the Australian Electoral Commission withdrew one charge and Ms McGowan dismissed another but did not disclose the person’s reasons.
Ms McGowan fined repeat non-voters either $150 or $180 while smaller $50 fines were issued to people who claimed they hadn’t voted because they were out of town or who forgot to update their details with the electoral commission when they changed their address.
The fines ranged from $50 to $180 according to the reasons listed for not voting or if someone had a history of not voting.
Ms McGowan said people previously had opportunities to respond to earlier notices posted by the Australian Electoral Commission and if their excuse was not upheld, they should have paid the $20 fine.
According to data from the Australian Electoral Commission, 94.34 per cent of adults who were on the electoral roll in Calare voted in the 2016 federal election with 106,569 people marked down, 101,908 casting formal votes and 4661 casting informal votes.
In 2013 there was a voter turnout of 95.32 per cent in Calare for the federal election and in 2010 the electorate’s turnout was 95.34 per cent.
Only one person attended court and said he had been charged under a former name of Loulou Taouk.
He said he could not recall why he didn’t vote or what he was doing on polling day but said he had paid the original $20 fine but lost the receipt.
However, the Australian Electoral Commission had no record of him paying the fine.
“I cannot remember the last time I voted because I’ve been in custody most of my life,” Taouk said.
“I think I’ve been voting under my new name.”
Ms McGowan fined Taouk $100 for not visiting a polling booth or paying the initial fine.